Following the footsteps of many successful female artist-turned-entrepreneurs like Jessica Alba and Gwen Stefani, actress Kate Hudson joined the highly competitive market of athleisure with Fabletics in 2013. On paper, Fabletics seems to be winning in every aspect: 1.2m paid monthly subscribers, $250 million in revenue, and sales growing by 43% in 2016. The fitness brand was promptly acquired by the $1-billion startup TechStyle Fashion Group. On Earth Day 2020, Fabletics releases their first ever sustainable clothing line called “Eco Conscious Collection”. On their website, the company avows to recycle and upcycle plastics into their activewear. Additionally, Fabletics also claims to be carbon neutral in all of their brick-and-mortar stores by using renewable energy and carbon offsets.
Athletic outfits in Fabletics’ Eco Conscious Collection are made of “recycled and upcycled materials” in collaboration with Repreve, a brand that keeps 24 billion discarded bottles from the landfills by turning them into fiber. Fabletics also advertises their switch from polybags to 100% recyclable packaging. And to hit the ball out of the park, or so they claim, Fabletics recently achieved net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by sourcing both renewable energy and carbon offsets.
Other red flags surrounding Fabletics include inconsistent quality, unpredictable sizing, and poor customer service. One of my biggest frustrations with the business is their lack of transparency and accessible information. It is unclear whether Fabletics employs ethical labor practices or actually uses recycled materials like they claimed.
This is not the first time a fast fashion company has disappointed me. In the chase of cheap and trendy products, Fabletics seems to have left their ethics at the door. As much as I adore Kate Hudson’s voiceover in Kungfu Panda 3, I will not choose to support Fabletics.
If you want to support truly sustainable activewear, check out our review of Girlfriend Collective: Compressive High-Rise Legging. They source post-consumer plastic bottles into fabrics for all of their clothes.
Just as when I was about to open my purse for some Fabletics leggings, it hit me. Fabletics’ “Eco-Conscious Collection is eerily reminiscent of H&M’s notorious Conscious line, of which the Swedish company was called out for “greenwashing”. It didn’t take more than two clicks on Google to find out all the controversies Fabletics was involved in. All of the company’s praises over its Eco-Conscious Collection fail to find any confirmation from third-party verifiers. Like H&M, Fabletics’ sustainability claims are vague and ambiguous, deliberately used to misguide well-intentioned consumers. But what is most notorious about Fabletics is the allegations of scamming customers. A BuzzFeed investigation reveals Fabletics’ parent company, the e-commerce juggernaut TechStyle Fashion Group, has a long history of deceiving buyers. Kate Hudson’s company alone has received over 1,000 complaints over unauthorized credit card charges for a VIP membership that former buyers never subscribed to. TechStyle Fashion Group paid $1.8 million in settlement to dissolve the pending lawsuit.